SDLP politicising policing not tackling crime

DUP South Belfast hopeful Jimmy Spratt has “insisted the SDLP was ‘strong on developing’ political issues concerning policing, but hadn’t revealed how it would deal with neighbourhood crime”.

He continued:

“I have been quite clear during this campaign in articulating the need for more resources to be directed towards policing, with more officers out patrolling our streets. “Not only will more resources and more officers create greater community confidence and a greater deterrent, but it will also make a significant impact in increasing crime clearance rates

.”

  • El Matador

    What is Jimmy S Pratt talking about?! If he had his way, there’d be no policing reform. The SDLP is pushing forward the policing agenda- here are their plans:

    * Local, area- by- area approaches to ease fear and the fear of crime;

    * All equal before the law;

    * Normal policing through de-fortification, demilitarisation and putting police officers on the ground;

    * Full speed ahead on Patten;

    * Maximising accountability of the police; and

    * Transfer of justice powers quickly.

    Go back to the barracks son, and leave real politics to the Big Boys

  • fair_deal

    Never mind the detail. A debate (if in a larval form) about a bread and butter issue, tackling crime, between two local parties from across the polticial divide. Hurray.

    El matador

    “All equal before the law”
    All equal unless you Protestant or from a minority ethnic background trying to join the PSNI of course.

  • El Matador

    All equal unless you Protestant or from a minority ethnic background trying to join the PSNI of course.

    Well the unionist dictatorship of 1921 to 1972 should have thought of this. The 50/50 system is required to ensure a representative police force.

    Unfortunate, but positive discrimination is the only way forward. When the SDLP’s plans for better policing come to fruition, there will be no need for 50/50 as nationalists will recognise the police as a fair and professional body. Until then, it stays.

  • fair_deal

    El matador

    1. “unionist dictatorship” It won the highest number of votes in every election.
    2. Also how does the action or inaction of a Unionist governments from 1921-1972 legitimise discriminationation against minority ethnic groups in the 21st century?

  • George T

    Come on Fair-Deal,

    Im no fan of the current discrimination in policing either, but the bigotry involved in the policing set-up was always going to come back to bite the old Stormont govt.s in the ass when their grandchildren came to apply. What goes around comes around – VERY unsatisfactory and unfair, but what is your suggestion?

  • El Matador

    Unionist dictatorship= gerrymandering, removing the PR system of the Government of Ireland Act to ensure a permanent majority, the fact that only one piece of nationalist legislation was ever passed, the fact that only one party ever won, PM Craig: “Aprotestant parliament for a protestant people”, PM Brook: “Where possible, only employ protestant lads and lasses”, and so on.

    Definition: dictatorship
    n : a form of government in which the ruler is an absolute dictator (not restricted by a constitution or laws or opposition etc.)

    There was (and still is) no constitution of NI, and the unionists were not restricted by the opposition, and they made all non-reserved laws.

    As regards ethnic minority groups, it is hardly likely that their applications to join the PSNI would exceed 50% of the total number so as to result in discrimination against them.

  • beano; EverythingUlster.com

    El Matador discrimination against minority groups is enshrined in the 50/50 rule because the recruiting pool has to be 50% Catholic and 50% Other (including protestants and Ethnic minorities) so a Muslim would have more competition to enter than a Catholic.

    And the Protestant Parliament for a Protestant People was made in response to a Southern politician (dev?) talking of the Free State as a Catholic State for a Catholic People AFAIK.

  • El Matador

    And the Protestant Parliament for a Protestant People was made in response to a Southern politician (dev?) talking of the Free State as a Catholic State for a Catholic People AFAIK.

    I know, but it’s just too easy to use as an example 😉 It doesn’t make Craig’s statement acceptable though.

    The 50/50 is by definition discriminatory, but for a better and more stable future it is necessary. In the long run it will benefit all of society.

  • Hmm…

    OK, positive discrimination genuinely worries some people, but as I understand it the argument runs along these lines: no one has a right to a job in the police, what they have is a right to be considered for a job in the police. One set of considerations include an individual’s qualifications, but a state may legitimately bring to bear additional considerations in designing recrutiment policy. In this case, the appearance of one community policing the other damages public confidence in the police and in so doing reduces the effectiveness of that force (This is distinct from questions about guaranteeing equal opportunites for individual nationalists who may want to join the police).

    I heard somewhere that a police force in England refused the application of a former soldier on the grounds that he had a prominent and highly undesirable tattoo. It was argued that this might damage public confidence in the impartiality of the police. It seems to me that positive discrimination/affirmative action over and above measures to avoid discrimination is necessary here because of the sort of job the police do and the need to maximise public confidence in them if they are to do it effectively.

    I guess fair_deal is probably right to raise the issue about how this particular measure affects ethnic minority applicants, although members of these communities are probably more exercised about the PSNI’s poor record on cracking down on racist attacks.

  • George

    Beano,
    de Valera’s failure to make Catholicism in Ireland the established church (like the established Church of England in England) in the 1937 constitution actually infuriated Irish Catholic groups.

    One of the reasons he and Fine Gael leader Cosgrave both agreed that a Protestant, Douglas Hyde, should be the nation’s first President was to disprove the notion that Éire was a Catholic State for a Catholic people.

  • beano; EverythingUlster.com

    Perhaps more ethnic minorities in the police would help with that? But what chance have they of getting in when they’re only competing with the already oversubscribed number for non-Catholic positions.

  • spirit-level

    beano what’s your objection to allowing the gardai more say or prescence in policing in Ulster?
    Esp in Nationalist areas, would not this help to undermine the IRA’s control and make for a more law-abiding place all round?

  • Hmm…

    Beano
    Yep, that bit should be changed.

  • El Matador

    spirit-level,

    I personnally think this is an excellent idea to supplement the SDLP’s camapign to make the police more acceptable.

    No doubt PSF (Partitionist Spin Féin) would come up with some objection to it- something along the lines of ‘individuals in the Gardaí are welcome to come north, but they have no place coming here in their capacity as police officers’. And McDowell’s comments that it would undermine the IRA (it would) will no doubt infuriate the provos further.

  • beano; EverythingUlster.com

    First of all, spirit-level, you assume I have an objection, I’ve never stated that – in fact beyond the current proposal for ‘exchange trips’ I hadn’t really thought about it.

    Would the Irish government be interested in spending their resources policing another state?

    I think the idea is fundamentally flawed in that it just introduces confusion over who has jurisdiction. Also, I don’t think it would undermine the IRA so much as it would hand them a victory for them to claim. They would have “bravely and successfully fought the machinery of the British colonial presence in Ireland out of nationalist areas” or something like that. Rather than undermine them, I think it would underline their reasoning that by creating no-go areas, they can force the border closer to Belfast.

    However, I think the exchanges talked about are no bad thing at all. PSNI officers serving under the Garda and vice versa seems reasonable and hopefully it will be effective in diluting the excuses of Sinn Fein that the PSNI is ‘an extension of the British state.’

  • spirit-level

    Cheers beano, el matador… though flawed , it’s worth a shot at inclusion in round-table talks, if we ever get there!

  • beano; EverythingUlster.com

    For what it’s worth this exchange program idea should be a lot more palletable to Unionists as it would not undermine the integrity of Northern Ireland, since the officers, though from the Garda, would be serving as part of the PSNI, if you get what I mean. Whether or not this would be enough for republicans is hard to say (from where I’m sitting anyway).

  • El Matador

    though flawed , it’s worth a shot at inclusion in round-table talks, if we ever get there!

    I’ll bear that in mind when I’m negotiating 😉

  • George

    Considering the PSNI officer I had to deal with in an official capacity last weekend never even heard of Roscommon or even how to spell it, I think there is definitely room for a few more enlightened officers in said force.

    As for Gardai north of the border, I assume the British would pay for the secondment considering they pay for everything else up there but I would agree with most of what Beano say, especially that SF would take it as a victory.

    But, on the other hand, unionists of all people must appreciate that most people prefer to be policed by “their own” and if the PSNI aren’t considered by nationalists as “their own” then there will always be problems.

    But would the people of West Belfast really consider a mullacker from Kerry or Cork as one of their own?

  • spirit-level

    George good one, judging by the ferocious pasting (SDLP’s)Young Irelander was receiving the other day by Northern Shinners, The Dublin gardai would be told to piss off back to their own country!

  • fair_deal

    El matador

    “Unionist dictatorship= gerrymandering, removing the PR system of the Government of Ireland Act to ensure a permanent majority, the fact that only one piece of nationalist legislation was ever passed, the fact that only one party ever won”

    Please read the comment. I said highest vote in every election, I made no mention of the boundaries or the system. Chnage the boundaries all you like they still won the popular vote consistently.

    Please list all the boundary reviews that were conducted from 1921-1972 that gerrymandered constituencies?

    The parties hurt by PR’s removal where not the nationalist party but small Unionist and labour parties.

    Please list for me the number of opposition bills accepted and passed in the Dail or Westminster between 1921 and 1972?
    This is not an act of discrimination it is the impact of the Westminster model upon which Stormont and the Dail were/are based. Also the overall legislative programme of Stormont was poor, they by and large copied Westminster.

    If the decision of the electorate is to keep electing the same party than that is the democratic choice. Canada and the RoI are examples of how one party can stay in power for very long periods of time.

  • El Matador

    This is not an act of discrimination it is the impact of the Westminster model upon which Stormont and the Dail were/are based.

    Sorry, but you are incorrect. The Government of Ireland Act 1920 provided for not for the Westminster system but PR, but the Stormont regime changed it to FPTP in the lateb 1920s. The Republic has never had a Westminster system, hence the coalitions which tend to be formed.

    Apart from all this, are you seriously contending that nationalists had any other choice than to be governed by the unionists. It was inherently unfavourable, hence the fall of Stormont and the Sunningdale/Good Friday Agreements.

  • fair_deal

    George

    “Unionists of all people must appreciate that most people prefer to be policed by “their own” and if the PSNI aren’t considered by nationalists as “their own” then there will always be problems.”

    This is a seriously dangerous road to go down. Prod officers for Prod areas and RC officers for RC areas no thank you.

    George T

    The Stormont government ended before I was born. Why should that effect how my application to join the police service in my area is treated?

    Policing is a pain issue for Republicanism as it has been for Unionism, we took our pain now time for their’s, sign up for the policing board. (Although they will soon discover what Unionist communities have known for some time the police aren’t particularly up to much when it comes to tackling crime).

  • carlosblancos

    Fair deal I think you’re missing the nuance of the argument. Elected dictatorhips are a commonly observed phenomenon in political science and are as abusive as the real thing. However, I think we all accept that Craig was not the same as Franco.

    I also think that after 70 years subjected to the RUC and the 50 years of the B Specials the least that Catholics can expect is an even playing field in recruitment to the police force.

    Sadly, the PSNI would evolve into RUC Mark 2 if recruitment took place using any other method.

  • George

    fair_deal,
    I know it’s a dangerous road but no police at all and paramilitaries in their place is a more dangerous road would you not agree?

    Also, you have to take the past into account as the problem with policing in Northern Ireland today goes all the way back to the use of the armed Protestant dominated RUC as one of the bulwarks of the fledgling NI state with the Orange Order chipping in as recruiting agents for the A,B and C specials.

    Removing the injustices of the Northern Ireland policing system shouldn’t be painful for unionists just as signing up to an accepted police force shouldn’t be painful to republicans.

    Interestingly, the DUP doesn’t want to allow Sinn Fein to be allowed to sign up to the policing board until it deems them fit to sit on it.

  • fair_deal

    El Matador

    Sorry I am not incorrect. You have failed to distinguish between two different points. The way the Dail deals with legislation is a virutal carbon copy of the Westminster system, that point referred to the handling of opposition bills not the voting system.

    Coalitions are much more a phenomenon of the last twenty-five years in RoI politics not the period 1921-1972

    “Apart from all this, are you seriously contending that nationalists had any other choice than to be governed by the unionists. It was inherently unfavourable, hence the fall of Stormont and the Sunningdale/Good Friday Agreements.”
    I can’t quite work out what you’re getting at with this one, please clarify.

    Carlosblancos

    That may be your nuance however, it was not the point el matador made.

  • NewYorker

    At long last a party has brought up an issue that surely effects the lives of everyone in NI in the present day. As a practical Yank, I think it important that there be public debate on realistically achievable issues that can improve the quality of life in day-to-day life in the present time. While you may not agree with the proposals, it puts an important issue at the top of the agenda. What positive responses do the other parties have?

  • George

    Fair_Deal,
    just to add something to my previous point.

    I hate to say this but I believe that overwhelming majority of working class NI nationalists are permanently alienated from the NI state and will now never even begrudgingly accept the constitutional status quo enshrined by the GFA. As a consequence, they will never accept the PSNI as they are “happy” living at the moment with one foot out of the British state.

    Many of these nationalists also see the union weakening by the year and standing tough will only weaken it further.

    It is no surprise that the DUP is pledging to strengthen the union by no more deals because it sees any deals as wrecking “our country”.

    Equally most working class Protestants are permanently alienated from a united Ireland.

    Even if a majority in NI voted for unification, I’d bet my bottom dollar that most NI Protestants would not quietly accept it but would instead revolt, leading to civil war.

    Even Trevor Ringland, hardly the most rabid unionist, believes that the GFA states that there will never be a united Ireland unless a majority of unionists vote for it – in other words never.

  • JD

    I hate the sort of argument I’m going to make, but I just wanted to clarify: DeValera made the “Catholic nation” speech on St Patrick’s Day 1935.

    Craig made his boast of a “Protestant Parliament for a Protestan People” on 24th April 1934 in Stormont.

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    Apologies JD, it seems the statement from Craig did come first – but it was “We are a Protestant parliament and a Protestant state.” At least according to the BBC among others.

  • George

    El Matador,
    just a small point on the SDLP and policing.

    I believe in 1970 John Hume fully endorsed the decision to replace the B Specials with the Ulster Defence Regiment and even issued a call for Catholics to join the new force.

    Like Patten, there was a intention to have growing Catholic recruitment within the UDR but this was entirely overrun by events.

    What makes you think the SDLP is right this time in taking its seats on the Policing board and fully endorsing the PSNI before that rather substantial list of yours at the very beginning of this thread has been met.

    The pessimist in me says it doesn’t matter either way because should conflict escalate again as the sectarian headcount approaches 50/50, the police will have to take one side or another.

  • JD

    You’re right, Beano. I was trying to do something else while I was posting. I should have posted more carefully.

  • beano @ Everything Ulster

    Why do the police have to take a side?

    And nobody can say for sure that the PSNI will work out better than the UDR (I don’t know anything about the formation of the UDR, I’m just going on what you’ve said), but there’s a much better chance of it succeeding if the SDLP and nationalists in general try and make it work, rather than do as Sinn Fein and try to prevent it at every turn. If it doesn’t work, and something similar happens, at least the SDLP will be in a position to try and prevent the positive changes being undone. If it completely falls apart they can withdraw their support so I don’t see why their involvement should be seen as negative.

  • spirit-level

    George
    “I hate to say this but I believe that overwhelming majority of working class NI nationalists are permanently alienated from the NI state and will now never even begrudgingly accept the constitutional status quo enshrined by the GFA. As a consequence, they will never accept the PSNI as they are “happy” living at the moment with one foot out of the British state.”

    I think therefore our best chance is to persuade
    unionists that theeir best interests lie in a United Ireland .. see my recent posts with maca on the thread “same old same old “.. I have some ideas..
    Gotta go catch Mick et al on the Webcast.. later.

  • Joanne Magee

    looks like the matador has argued you all under the table lads?

    maybe it’s time to give it up as a bad job and vote for the only party that makes sense on this – the sdlp

  • dermy

    joanne

    Reality check required

    Stoops heading into the political abyss